PART I: 1628

I. Departure

England may have sired America, but there was no doubt among the other Nations that it was Scotland who raised him.

For starters, no one knew of America's heritage until centuries after his birth. And at the time, England was far too busy building an Empire, visiting the West Indies, commandeering goods from Spanish sailors; not being on Island and allowing older siblings to gather their things and flee with their constituents to the New World.

It was 1628, and Wales had volunteered to stay behind, much to Scotland's chagrin, in order to deflect England's certain wrath.

"I'll be fine," Wales said to Scotland. A cool breeze kicked up leaves and newspapers and moans of hungry children. A street lamp flickered, an array of moths finding solace in the heat and light. Scotland was not a man of words or emotions, and even less a man of interpreting them. He pressed his lips together. A pinch and rumble coursed through his stomach. When was the last time he'd eaten more than bread crumbs?

"You need this more than I, Craig," Wales insisted. The corners of Wales' mouth upturned— a small smile, barely visible in the dim light.

Something shattered in Scotland's heart. It twisted and tugged and pulled until it wretched itself away and settled on his shoulders. The streetlamp's glow splayed orange over Wale's freckle-nosed face. His summer leaf eyes now the color of autumn. The corners wrinkled with guilt's burden, little dark clouds forming underneath.

Wales resembled England, or perhaps England resembled Wales— more scrawn than brawn. His clothes were too large, rolled sleeves billowing behind him like kites' tales. Musty blonde hair fell into his eyes and gathered too much along the nape of his neck.

And it was at that moment, when Scotland's eyes caught Wales' once more, that the oldest British Isle Nation realized this would be his last memory of his brother. And Scotland did what he hadn't done in centuries.

He pulled his brother into a tight embrace.

"T-take care of yourself," Wales sputtered.

Scotland was the first to retreat. A bitter wind blew from the east and he pulled his color up to his ear. His steps were quick. The vessel was sure to be leaving soon. He could only hope and pray that his youngest brother would not harm Wales.


II. Mountains

Nations were drawn to each other, like troubles were drawn to Scotland. What little food he could scrap together on the ship was being regurgitated over the side. For a moment, he was thankful for being a Nation—the amount rumbling of his sides surely would have killed an ordinary human. Once he'd reach the New World, Craig promised himself a large home, and larger acres to toil and harvest.

Jamestown wasn't quite what Scotland had expected, but it was home for now. There wasn't the hustle and bustle of London. The outlining forests past the city's limits were visible. Humidity stained his shirt, but after two months at sea, Scotland hardly noticed, and if he had, cared less. Tobacco and timber laced the sweet, salty ocean air. To this day, Scotland insists that is the smell of blessed freedom.

Scotland wasn't sure why he chose to build his home near what was obviously the richest man in the township. It was two storied, evenly painted with a small patch of English roses in the backyard—he could spot his half-brother's national shrubbery from a mile away. There was a hallway window on the second floor that faced Scotland's home. If he were in bed, he could peer into the life of the rich man—well, at least his corridor.

The back of Scotland's mind tickled with familiarity; there was something about the house that drew him to it. At the time, Scotland insisted it was the view.

In two months, thanks to his considerable strength, he'd constructed a makeshift home that would probably fall apart if any ill weather made its way to the coast. From his position, he could watch the sun set over the heads of forests. The mountains, more large hills than formidable foes, stood in silence, as if a wall daring him not to venture past its realms. Tempting him to travel west.

The sky over those Appalachian Mountains rapidly shifted into a deep crimson-orange, almost the same shade of his sister Ireland's hair. He wondered how she was doing in her own house. He prayed to the Lord that she would stay strong in these growing tremulous times.

That shade turned deeper and whatever feeling of nostalgia had come over him was gone. Scotland held a tin cup filled with a swirl of heavy black coffee, with some leaves still clumped in it, took a swig.

"One day," Scotland mumbled to the mountains. He set his cup down with a plink on the splintered table and made his way to bed.


III. Encounter

To this day, Scotland despises being awakened from his sleep. It must have been a little past two in the morning when a blood curdling shriek ripped him from his slumbers that night. Scotland slept with a knife under his pillow and a rifle under his bed. In an instant, he was on his feet, armed: knife in one hand, rifle around his torso. He'd heard stories about Injuns and what they did to the new settlers. Granted, he was a Nation, and they were mere humans. But that didn't mean Scotland wanted to unnecessarily end a life.

Scotland looked to the left and the right for the source of the sound. After a few minutes with no other disturbances, he let his adrenaline seep off. Whatever it was, it must have seen the knife and rifle and thought otherwise. He replaced the knife and rifle and stepped back into bed. Scotland sighed and ran his hand through his short, thick chestnut hair. His eyelids closed. Not a second had passed in darkness when—

The shrieking picked up again. Waaaaaaah! Waaaaaaah! Scotland was on his feet again, this time armed only with the knife. It took him a moment to place the sound—

The cries of an infantile baby.

It took him another moment to place to location—

His neighbor's home.

"No, no, no, no," Scotland grumbled. There could not, should not be a baby out here in the wilderness. What mother would be so daft as to actually come out here in the first place? He grabbed his pillow and shoved it over his ears, hoping to smother out the sound. Nothing was working.

Soon, light bloomed inside the second story window's frames. Scotland could make out the shadows of a woman, the nurse, hopefully. She opened window and silk curtains billowed in the sudden breeze. Scotland noticed that the woman must not have been over the age of fifteen. The grievances against his neighbor were adding quickly. A fifteen year old should be with her own family, not tending to another man's.

"What's wrong, Honeysuckle?" the girl asked the infant in somewhat hysterical voice. The infant did not reply, only wailed in protest. The girl bit her lip and began to cry herself, barely able to stand.

Scotland was not a man of words or emotions, nor was he one for interpreting them. After watching the girl's disposition crumble, and the baby's voice to escalade in sound and frequency for what seemed like hours, it finally dawned on him—

She didn't know what in the hell she was doing.

Scotland wasn't great with children, but he had reared two. At this point, he couldn't do anything worse than the girl had.


IV. Recognition

"Me name's Craig. I'm here to help," Scotland said in a husky-just-out-of-bed voice. The girl's eyes were swollen and her nose tomato red. The infant still writhing and screaming in her arms. She nodded and invited Scotland in the house. With only the candlelight, he couldn't see the house, but he was certain it was just as elaborate on the inside as it was out. The girl led him inside to the dining room; she struggled with the infant, now waving its arms in protest for being moved.

"I'm so sorry," the girl choked, her heritage from Northern England obviously revealed in her voice. She handed the baby to Scotland. She nearly collapsed into the wooden chair. Craig slowly sat across from her. As she rambled excuses for her lack luster performance (she mentioned something about not being good with children, and that most usually burst into sobs when she is near), Scotland found great interest in the infant, who equally found great interest in the man holding him.

He stopped writhing and stopped screaming.

"What did you do?" the girl asked in wonderment, staring at the infant as though he were the Holy Grail.

Scotland shrugged, fascinated with the infant in his arms.

The boy must have been no more than a few weeks old, the size of a small loaf of bread. His blonde hair, almost the same color as ready-to-harvest wheat, sat up in tufts. The ruddiness in his face calmed down, to what Scotland had to assume was his normal complexion. The boy's eyes are what caught Scotland's attention—June blue with an extra glint from the candlelight most humans did not possess.

A small smile crept onto Scotland's lips. An aching sensation ebbed into his chest. He reached out to graze his fingers through the infant's down soft hair. A small hand, a sixteenth the size of his palm, reached up, and gripped his index finger with surprising strength.

"I'm afraid that Lord Kirkland has been away again," she said with an exhausted sigh. "He can usually keep the baby quiet."

"Kirkland?" he inquired, looking up. The infant mewed, now that attention had been turned away from him; Scotland gave the infant a little squeeze, quieting him.

"Yes. Lord Arthur Kirkland. He's the richest person here, and apparently has connections with Parliament and the Royal Family. I'm not sure what he's doing, though. There are only ruffians here in Jamestown."

"Whose…whose child is this?" The infant made a giggling sound as Scotland returned his attention to him.

"I'm afraid that I'm not sure. Lord Kirkland said he found him crying on the outskirts of town. No one would take him in, so he did. Resemblance is uncanny though."

There were two thoughts that went through Scotland's mind. The first—Nations couldn't bear children with their constituents. The only exception out of almost three thousand years of history was Prussia, a Nation born from a Tribe and a human knight. The chance of him laying with one of the Tribes was such a ridiculous idea that it never crossed his mind. The second—Arthur Kirkland was incapable of compassion towards anyone or anything, especially infant children. He would sooner leave it to the dogs to feast upon then take it in and raise it. He seemed to be falling short on the latter, though.

"Hmm…look at that," the woman said, stifling a yawn. "He's asleep now."

Scotland stood to give the child back to the girl. The infant rolled into Scotland's chest and gripped his shirt. The woman tilted her head, and smiled. The candle light flickered and the bags under her eyes seemed more emphasized. She clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth. "Isn't that precious? I think he likes you."

Swiftly, but quietly and reassuringly, the girl took back the boy into her arms. He squirmed, but fell right back asleep. She reached for the candlestick on the small table.

"Thank you," she said, rocking the infant side-to-side lightly.

"What's his name?" Scotland inquired.

"Alfred," she said. "Alfred Farley. I suppose you may add Kirkland on the end, though it is not official."

It took every fiber of will in Scotland's mind and soul not to comment on how unlikely a name that was for an adoptive son of Arthur Kirkland. The arrogant bastard would probably make his offspring a "second."

"Well, then," Scotland looked around the room, as if he were looking for something else to say. He didn't want to leave quite yet, but now that…Alfred was asleep, there was no reason for him to be around anymore. The girl stared at him, blinked once or twice, waiting for him to finish his statement. "Suppose I'll be leavin' now."

"Will you come again tomorrow?" the girl wondered, a pinch of desperation rounded her voice. "Lord Kirkland won't be back for another week or so. Mammy watches him sometimes, but it is just the two of us, and neither of us seems to get the same reaction from him as you do."

It took Scotland only a moment to think about his answer.

"Absolutely."


V. Confrontation

England's ship came home early.

Scotland was in the backyard, holding Alfred by the armpits, with the baby's feet on top of his. Many months had gone by, and there was no indication that Alfred was anything more than a human baby. Already at eight months, he was learning to walk, making more complex sounds than mews and moans. Alfred could recognize Scotland, and seemed to prefer him over Mammy, the black Slave, and Anne—the young girl from their first encounter.

"Left," Scotland said, taking an exaggerated step. "Right. Left. Right."

Alfred giggled and pulled his feet up.

"No, no," Scotland said, holding back a smile. "You're going t'learn how t'walk today young man."

Alfred looked up and grinned at the Nation, two small teeth visible. He pulled his fingers to his mouth and sucked on them, making "dap" sound. Scotland rolled his eyes and picked up the child, resting him on his chest. Alfred was trying desperately to make him smile, but Scotland was unaccustomed of such facial expression. But there was something about Alfred that made him at least twitch his lips; and something kept him coming back.

That scared him. Nations weren't supposed to become attached to humans. It made governing them unnecessarily complicated. It wasn't like Alfred was his constituent, but if a human baby in the New World could influence him so, what of his People? When he returned home at the end of the year, would they be able to bend his will like a sapling twig? Should England invade, would he succumb to living in his house because he came across a poor, destitute family who only wanted the fighting to stop? What if he gave in?

But it was hard not to fall in love with that smile or the genuine glee Alfred had when he scampered across the floor to Scotland's feet moments after he'd walked in the door.

The late afternoon sun splayed shadows long across the yard. Upon later thought, Scotland would realize that was why he hadn't seen the figure crossing the grass.

"Craig."

A familiar voice.

Scotland turned his attention from Alfred and looked down at his half-brother. Though he was still growing (quite ostentatiously too), he was quite diminutive, only rounding out five-feet-four-inches.

England.

Not being one for pomp and circumstance, England was dressed in a scarlet wool overcoat, a silken doublet, dark wool breeches, silk stockings, silver buckled shoes, and an absolutely foul disposition.

Alfred could sense the mood change and leaned into Scotland's chest.

"What are you doing here?" England asked, crossing his arms.

"I'm taking care of your responsibilities," Scotland said, motioning to Alfred, finding much interest in the thick hair on Scotland's arms. He could feel his blood hum. England hadn't said more than ten words, and he could already feel the need to maul him with his bare hands.

"What of your responsibilities on the Isles?" England hissed. "Jamestown is mine. I have reason to travel over two thousand miles. What of you?"

"My people are here, Arthur."

England rolled his eyes. "Wonderful." He harrumphed. "I suppose I should construct something to dispose of the bad influences within my colony."

"Not with James on the throne."

"Perhaps not," England said. "But, I can keep my Colony—" he reached for Alfred "—away from them."

"Colony?" Craig asked, eyebrows furrowed.

Alfred made a brrrrrp sound at England, which elicited a grin from the Nation. England looked back at Scotland.

"Yes, Colony," he said as if Scotland had asked what color the sky was. "You didn't think that all this land wouldn't have a Living Nation, would you?" England chuckled under his breath, laughing at his own joke. "This is America. He is the Living Nation of my colonies, even the religious lunatics up north. And I would appreciate it if you unhanded him and returned him to me."

"How do you know?"

"You couldn't tell for yourself, Craig?" England raised a curious eyebrow. "You need to come out of the Highlands more often."

"How do you know?"

"It's in the eyes isn't it?" England said, softer now, looking at Alf—America—who brrrp-ed again, reaching towards England. "And you can feel it, can't you? Right here."

England made a motion to his heart, right where Scotland felt he'd been struck the first night he'd met Alf—America. It made sense…why he chose to build his home next to England's unknowingly.

Alfred's Nationhood would explain why once he'd settled in that Alfred began screaming and crying throughout the night. It must have been frightening for such a young child to feel another Nation's presence without solace. It would also explain why Mammy and Anne couldn't comfort him.

"Is he yours?" Scotland asked, retreating a half-inch.

"I am quite certain he isn't. I just found him—"

"You just happened to find a Child Nation? So help me God, Arthur, if you sired a Child Nation and left him by himself with a human girl, I'll rip your testicles off and shove them down your throat."

"No need for such language, Craig, not around the children." England brushed a spot on his shoulder. "Sweden and Finland were here before me. Spain has known of this location for at least a century, and so has France. Perhaps it is theirs. I care not. He is a Colony, and will grow to be a prosperous one in my care. He should consider himself lucky it was I who found him and not the Catholics."

England leaned on his knees, eye-to-eye with the Colony. "Hello, America. Have we enjoyed our time with Uncle Scotland?"

America smiled brightly and squealed again, reaching towards England, tapping his face and nose. For a moment, England's soul made a surprise appearance, and he genuinely smiled back. America reached for England with a wave of strength Scotland hadn't expected, loosening his grip. The baby slipped easily into England's outstretched arms. England propped him on his hip.

"If I were you, Craig," England said with his devilish grin, "I would be on the next boat for Scotland."

"My people are here, Arthur. I have as much a right to be here as you do."

"Now see, there's the rub isn't it? The difference between you and me: You," Arthur jabbed Scotland's chest with his index finger, pushing him back another inch or two, "are a subsidiary country to my own. Your people may be here, but I am the ruling Nation."

Scotland's lips pulled into a thin white line. His heart pounded against his chest, ears burning. Alfred's in his arms. Alfred's in his arms.

"We share the same king," Scotland reaffirmed through grit teeth. "That doesn't make me a lesser Nation than you."

"In due time, Scotland. In due time."

Scotland twisted his heel in the ground, a physical reminder that he could not strike England right now. He chewed the inside of his cheek until iron spilled out—he spit to the side.

A breeze rustled the grass like ocean waves, and shook the roses. England's unruly molded hay hair blew into his face and for a moment, Scotland could see his Viking roots, just waiting for the right moment to appear. Despite his noble dispositions, he was still a child of the Norse: a brutal savage with only the blood of their mother to save him.

One day, he would show this brat his place in life. He had failed before, but given the right time, equipment and—

His eyes fell on Alfred

—ability, he'd be able to do it.

"Dada!" America cried. His arms reached forward towards Scotland, and wriggled, trying to pull himself out of England's arms and back into Scotland's. Scotland's defenses crumbled a bit and he smiled back at America. "Dada!" he said a bit louder.

For hot second, England looked as though he'd been punched in the gut. His upper lip curled and he snarled, disgusted that his beloved Colony would dare call Scotland of all Nations, father. America squealed. England turned on his heel and walked back to the house.

Alfred's cries rang louder as they approached the house.

Scotland had never been a man of words and feelings, nor was he one for interpreting them, so when England came back outside after handing the baby to Mammy, he let his fist do all the conversing for him.


Footnotes:

The Scottish and Irish influence in American culture is nearly incalculable. Most notably, their music influenced what would become American Country Rock. The Scottish began their trek to America in the 1600s and after the Cromwell Revolution, immigration picked up quite rapidly. The early Scots lived mostly in Virginia and south of that. One of the biggest conglomeration of Scots was in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia—the "Hillbilly States." While there were many Welsh immigrants to America at this time as well, I've chosen to keep Wales on the Isles for literary purposes.

Jamestown was first established in 1607. Tobacco was introduced as a cash crop by John Rolfe in 1612. England was very, very happy with this economic development. While it was considered the capital of the Virginia colony for some time, eventually the capital moved to Williamsburg and the town fell into obscurity.

King James was the king of both Scotland and England from 1567-1625. He is known as James I to the English and James the IV to the Scots.

Alfred Farley? Alfred Farley? Now, before you guys get your panties in a twist, I've got a real reason for using that name. Farley is an old, now very rare English name meaning "fern clearing." This is also based on my drabble fic, "Fairytale," where England, instead of duking it out with France, Finland and Sweden for custody rights, finds infant America on the outskirts of town. In those outskirts? Fern plants.

It was either Farley , Franklin, which means freeman, or Fenton, which means marsh town.

Babies begin making complex sounds around nine months. Even though Alfred has said "dada," he has no idea what he's saying.

Other Notes:

Well, hello there headcanon, it's nice to see you all fleshed out and almost nearly finalized. I'm sorry if I'm stomping on toes with this, but I'm part of the small minority that says Nations are born and not made. With that, Nations are not immortal, only graced with an exceptionally long longevity and youth. I'll be getting more into their family dynamics in later parts (hopefully this thing won't balloon past three parts). For now, just know that England and Scotland share a mother, Mama Celt. England's father is Daddy Viking Character (don't mind the unfinished headcanon, please). Scotland's is Daddy Celt.

In my headcanon, Scotland looks like a young Gerard Butler and sounds like Craig Ferguson. It makes sense.

Oh, and I'm sorry for wonky formatting. destroys what I have on Word. :